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Chicago Gifted Community Center

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Welcome to our blog.   Please note that this page is open to the public, so any comments made by members will be visible to the general public also.  At this time, only members can make comments to the posts. 

  • January 21, 2013 8:55 AM | Anonymous member

    Here’s an explanation of the Arduino from a non-geek. Actual geeks, please cover your ears.

    One of the great things about being a volunteer leader working with kids is that you learn new things, try things you’d never have tried before. With my Girl Scout troops, I’ve done high ropes courses, 35 feet off the ground, including once just three months after having a baby; I’ve done backpack camping; slept in a yurt.  

    I never thought I’d be learning and explaining the Arduino but such is the joy of lifelong learning.As the co-leader of the Hacker Scouts - Near West, so far I’ve gotten refreshers on kinetic energy, sound waves and lots of practice tearing duct tape for kids.

    What’s the Arduino then? It’s a microcontroller. That doesn’t help, does it? 

    I’ve come to the conclusion that what makes the Arduino so hard to explain is that it can do so many things and it disappears into whatever project someone’s built. You see the project and think, “Cool,” but you don’t notice the Arudino.  Basically, and Arduino is this small circuit board doo-hickey that includes a computer chip and some places where you can connect things to it. You program the Arduino by connecting it to a computer and then you send that programming, or instructions to the Arduino.

    Some teens and adults recently took at CGCC class in Arduino at Workshop 88, a Hacker Space in suburban Glen Ellyn.  They did the classic first Arudino project, which is to program it to make an LED light flash.

    So, to summarize, the purpose of the Arduino is take a simple task, like plugging in a light bulb, and make it really complicated and convoluted.  You could use an Arudino to program some motors that you could connect to a robotic vehicle, for example. You could create a message in lights, controlled by Arduino.I should just show some cool projects that people make with them, here are some links.

    20 Unbelievable Arduino Projects
    (try to keep your kids from seeing the flame throwing pumpkin!)

    Here’s another round up post of Arduino Projects, including the twitter-enabled coffee pot:

    In addition, you can combine multiple Arduinos in one project. Many of the things you can do with an Arduino, you could also do with Lego’s NEXT, however, price is a huge factor. NEXT is about $280.00, and while it’s a great product and easy to use, that’s a big investment. An Arduino is just $30.00 and you program it with free, open source software. As a bonus, that software comes in mac, pc and Linux versions.

    Here’s a video at MAKEzine that answers, “What’s an Arduino?”

  • January 15, 2013 8:33 PM | Anonymous member
    This weekend tech genius and internet activist Aaron Swartz took his own life. Parents of gifted kids grabbed those kids tightly and wordlessly said that prayer from the soul all frightened parents say over their children. Jen Merrill, our north suburban board member, wrote of Aaron and gifted children this weekend: 

    "It’s more than likely you do not know the name Aaron Swartz; before this morning I did not either. But if you are reading this on a feed reader, he is why. Among many other things, he helped create the RSS feed by which you’re reading this. When he was 14.

    Yesterday he hanged himself."

    You can read the rest of the post at her blog, Laughing at Chaos. 
  • January 15, 2013 11:45 AM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    The National Girls Collaborative Project  January 2013 E-Newsletter had a link to the EngineerGirl Essay Contest.  Every year, the EngineerGirl website sponsors a contest dealing with engineering and its impact on our world.  This year's contest is titled "Essential To Our Health."  The contest is open to girls and boys in grades3 - 12.  Submissions are due March 1,2013.  Winners receive cash prizes.

  • January 15, 2013 12:07 AM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    Registration is open for Winter Cascade 2013 which runs from January 29 - February 26.  Topics for this session include:


    Color Theory and the Language of Art

    Synthetic Biology:Hacking the Genome

    The History of Rock

    The Ethical Life

    Make No Small Plans: How Chicago Came to Be

    Reading Between the Lines: Introduction to Music Analysis

    Staring Into Infinity

    Psychology: A Brief Introduction to How Your Mind Works

    City Government: Discover the Power of You

    Is your brain lying to you? The truth behind visual perception

    The Philosophy of Death: Why is death badundefinedor is it?

    How to Lead: A Crash Course In Leadership

    When Movies Get it Wrong

    Basic Beginner Jazz Dance



    Splash! Chicago is a student organization at the University of Chicago that runs free after-school and weekend programs for high school students. Their goal is to introduce students from different walks of life to topics that aren’t approached in the traditional classroom– anything from pirate history and culture to tap dancing and religious cults– in a fun, collaborative setting. Our programs are open to all high school students: there’s no application and there’s no charge.

    We host two programs on the University of Chicago campus: Splash! runs annually on a Saturday in October and is attended by several hundred high school students; Cascade runs Tuesday evenings, fall and winter, and is attended by about one hundred students. Students have the opportunity to explore several different subjects at Splash!, while Cascade offers an opportunity to explore one or two subjects more in-depth!

  • January 14, 2013 11:34 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    Registration for the Tinkering School Chicago overnight summer camp has started.  Registration ends March 1, 2013 so be sure to start on the application soon.


    Also, the Tinkering Lab at Chicago Children's Museum opens on February 5.  Dustin, the director of Tinkering School Chicago, will be building, testing and breaking stuff in there every Thursday night and Saturday this spring.


  • November 01, 2012 2:36 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    The Gifted Education Cooperative (GECO) is sponsoring a discussion group for parents, facilitated by our own Newenka DuMont.


    Meet with a group of parents for 8 consecutive weeks beginning Thursday, January 24th, 2013 ending March 14th, 2013 to discuss issues of giftedness. We will meet from approximately 9:15 – 10:45 am. The location for these discussions will be in the Hinsdale area.


    Each week we will read one or two chapters of the book A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children and discuss them as a group.  Additional readings from the gifted press will be provided.  We will cover a variety of topics relevant to raising gifted children, such as maintaining motivation and enthusiasm, avoiding underachievement, coping with intensity, perfectionism, stress, idealism, and depression, making and keeping friends, handling siblings, and more. 


    The cost for participation will be $50, which will be used to pay for materials and facilities.  Additionally, each participant will need to acquire a copy of the book.


    The guided reading will be facilitated by GECO volunteer Newenka DuMont, the mother of two gifted teenagers.  She is the founding president of the Gifted Education Cooperative and on the board of the Chicago Gifted Community Center.  Newenka is the Illinois SENG (Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted) Liaison and a certified SENG Model Parent Group facilitator.  She has been leading guided reading groups in our area since 2003. 

    If you are interested in participating or in receiving more information, please email Newenka at by November 30, 2012. (Don’t like Thursdays?  Let her know you are interested but have a conflict.) The group size will be limited to 12 people, on a first come, first served basis.  Like most GECO functions, there is no need to be a GECO member or to reside in our communities to participate. We will need at least 8 people to form a group. 

  • October 23, 2012 2:10 PM | Anonymous member
    This past Sunday the 21st the CGCC hosted its first northern region event. Held at C&A Robot Factory in Libertyville, it was a fun-filled afternoon of Legos and science. We had a great turnout, with some families traveling as long as an hour to meet up with other gifted families. The seventeen Lego builders built and programmed a drumming monkey (who doesn't love a Lego drumming monkey?), as well as built and tested a race car. The creativity and curiosity in the room was awesome to see. Photos from the event can be seen on our CGCC Facebook page.

    We hope to have another Lego event at C&A Robot Factory in the spring, but there will surely be other activities and gatherings before then. If there is something you would like to see in your area, please contact one of the board members.

    Many thanks to C&A Robot Factory for their help in setting up this event! 

  • October 11, 2012 10:43 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    Board member Lauren Callaway was interviewed recently for an article entitled, "Smarty pants:  Social, emotional and cerebral educuation for gifted children" by Wendy Altschuler for Sun-Times Media.  Read the entire article here. 

  • October 10, 2012 7:45 AM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    Nearparkers Family Workshop is the working title of a community tinkerer, maker, hacker, creator space being planned near Oak Park and Forest Park.  The goal is to have equipemtn and a family friendly space to share and to feed off of each other's creative juices.  They are looking for people to follow along as progress updates come out and also for people to help drive the creation of the space.  The space will have members who pay a monthly fee to have 24 hour access and it also will have set meetings or workshops open to the public.  Contact Cathy Theys for more information:

  • October 07, 2012 2:05 PM | Leslie Contos

    The Chicago Gifted Community Center website is one of the ways we strive to serve the Chicago area gifted community.  After listening to the responses of over 75 area gifted families who participated in our initial survey, we designed a site we believe will help families make the connections they desire.  Members of the Chicago Gifted Community Center have access to:

    •  Full Event Calendars:  which include upcoming CGCC events, as well as free or low cost local events of interest to families of gifted, events in the area gifted community, and interesting free online courses.
    • Family Directory:  This is a useful tool for families to find others who share common interests to create personal networks.  Families can tailor what information is visible.
    • Professional Directory:  We have started accepting professional members who understand gifted to the Professional Directory.  We are hoping this will begin to serve as a “Gifted Yellow Pages” for the Chicago area gifted community.
    • Mentor Directory: This is still under development, but we have the capability of creating a directory of area mentors who are interested in working with gifted families.
    We are a nonprofit, all volunteer site, however we do ask for a suggested annual donation of $25 to help support the cost of the site and insurance and because we believe that most families desire to support the growth of services for the gifted community.  If you have questions about our site, or are a gifted family who would benefit from membership but can’t afford the donation, please contact us.  

About cgcc

The Chicago Gifted Community Center (CGCC) is a member-driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by parents to support the intellectual and emotional growth of gifted children and their families. 

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We  are an all volunteer-based organization that relies on annual memberships from parents, professionals, and supporters to provide organizers with web site operations, a registration system, event insurance, background checks, etc. 

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